How NOT to campaign

I got the worst political campaign call I’ve ever heard the other day. It had nothing to do with the candidate; the person calling was just incompetent.

On Wednesday, I got about half a dozen calls from “unknown caller.” I’d pick up the phone and there’d be just music, then a few seconds of silence and a disconnect. I started letting them go to the answering machine without any better results. Curious, I answered another later, still hearing only music.

Thursday, nothing.

Friday morning, as I played on the computer and listened to morning news reports on the Iowa caucuses, I wondered if the calls had been political in nature. Within the half hour, “unknown caller” returned with music – and then a live voice.

He promised this wasn’t a sales call, noted that I would have the opportunity to vote in the Michigan primary Jan. 15 and asked for 30 seconds to tell me about a candidate. Then he started rattling off bullet points, asking whether I’d vote for a candidate who would bring the troops home from Iraq, X, Y, would eliminate the IRS …

He kept listing but I had to interrupt. “Did you say eliminate the IRS?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied, without offering any details, and finished his list. Would I vote for such a candidate?

Hmm. Well, that “eliminate the IRS” part told me the candidate likely was more conservative than I am, and there was no mention of a magic money pot to replace those funds. Still, I’m trying to be very open minded this campaign, and said I needed lots more information than he had offered, and was there a website I could look at?

“Would it make a difference to you if I said the candidate was Ron Paul?” he replied.

Well, no. I told him I had seen people campaigning for Mr. Paul, mostly by holding signs in parking lots, but that the name alone didn’t mean anything; I wanted to know more about his positions. Website, please?

He didn’t know. “I guess you could try http://www.ronpaul.com,” he offered.

I let a laugh creep into my voice. “I hope that’s not a porn site, like whitehouse.com,” I said. (That one since has changed, I found when I checked later, but once upon a time it was a porn gateway. It’s my job to know these things.)

He assured me it wasn’t, but really, how could he know? A look later showed it to be an “under construction” site for a Portland consultant. Want the candidate? Go to ronpaul2008.com instead.

Smart campaign workers don’t make potential voters work that hard. Smart campaign organizers make sure their candidate’s URL is on everyone’s lips, just in case a smart voter says gosh, keeping our soldiers alive at home and keeping my hard-earned dollars in my own pocket sounds good, but just how does Mr. Whizbang plan to accomplish that? And as Dick DeVos found out, “just trust me and you’ll find out after I’m in office” is not the magic answer.

I like the grassroots charm of the waving signs. I even didn’t mind the repeated autodialer since I eventually did get a live body, not a recorded message. But Mr. Paul’s chances are mighty slim if his campaign workers don’t get just a little more polished. That’s not elitism talking, it’s a desire to stake my vote on solid information, not just whims and faith, and he is falling short.

This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

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